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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Look! Over in Jax Beach! It's A Restaurant, Bar, Brewery, Burger Joint and Trendy Tapas Place: Zeta Brewing Delivers It

I just love it when I visit a new place and have such a good experience that I can't wait to go back.  That's what happened recently after a stop to Zeta Brewing Company in Jacksonville Beach.  I didn't expect to stay there as long as I did, and that says something.  I had posted on social media that night that "I might not leave." 




Zeta opened in 2013 as a restaurant/bar, and in early 2014, it announced the upcoming addition of a 7-barrel brewhouse.  It did that in May, and it is now known as Zeta Brewing Company.


A look inside Zeta Brewing Company
(photo from its Facebook page)
The place features a wraparound bar, surrounded by perimeter tables along the walls. Wanna watch TV? You can do that, too. The brewhouse is housed behind a glass partition.


Ruby Beach raspberry wheat
Cut to the chase: The beer here is good, and so is the food. But let's start with the beer.  Zeta brews five main house beers: Twin Finn lager, American Garage American IPA, Ruby Beach Wheat (raspberry), Power to the Porter brown porter, and Private Rye American Pale Ale.

The lager is a good all-around beer.  It's what you'd expect: clean, easy-drinking.  This one should appeal to all of those "other" beer drinkers (c'mon, you know the ones).  So, if you're looking for a lighter-style brew that still has character, check it out. Untappd has this one as 5.1 ABV, 20 IBU.

But, I really liked the Ruby Beach raspberry wheat ale.  Generally, "wheat beers" are not my thing, but this one worked for me.  And, no, it's not because of the fruit-effect. This one isn't a sweet-fruity concoction that makes you feel like you're drinking pure sugar or something that requires a little umbrella (although I have nothing against those).  The raspberry is just right and not overpowering.  It's a beer alright, with a hint of raspberry goodness. (ABV  4.9)

The IPA (ABV 6.1) can hold its own as well, and didn't drink too hoppy. If you like a hoppier IPA with a little more bitter and bite, this will be a bit mild for you.  Overall, though, good drinkable IPA.

Faux pas on my part, but I didn't try the house porter or rye pale ale.  I like porters, but.... one of the guest taps-- He'Brew Death of a Contract Brewer American Black IPA -- really was calling me (really, it was).  Now, you can get small samples of any of the draft beers. That's where the real fun started, as the samples were lurking.  I'm always drawn to a Black IPA, and this one was awesome.  I may have had two, I'm not sure.


Black IPA in the glass.....
things were getting really interesting by this time
Zeta had a good selection of guest taps, including several good ones from local Florida favorites SwampHead and Cigar City, Tampa's Brew Bus Brewing's Last Stop IPA (also a good choice), and Green Room Brewing's Quad Fin Belgian Quad.  OK, you know I must have been pretty happy with my selections, because I didn't even have my favorite SwampHead Wild Night (shock). Rounding out the guest taps were Sweetwater IPA, Founder's All Day IPA (are we on a roll here or what), Shmaltz Rejewvenator and the Shmaltz/Terrapin collab Reunion Ale.  And, for you Bourbon-barrel fans, Lexington's Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale was also on tap. And, they also had bottles: DogFish Head 60 Minute, Fat Tire, and the old "Light/Lite" standbys. Plus, a full liquor bar, specialty drinks, and wine.

Well, that's a lot of beer talk.  What about the food? The menu on the website only shows brunch and late night menus, but there's a lot more here: appetizers, nachos, wings, soups, salads, tacos, sandwiches ("Big Zeta", chicken club, mahi), burgers, flats, pizzas. Sounds good, right? Yeah, it is.













This shrimp appetizer (look to the right) is lightly breaded and quite tasty. The tacos are ordered individually.  I got grilled mahi tacos (surprise, surprise), and these really passed the test. How about a flatbread pizza, you say?  Ok, that works, too! Overall, the food here was quite good.



The bartenders were fun, the beer was good, the food was good.  Never left the bar seat.  

Well, eventually, I did make it back to St. Augustine.  But, I'll definitely visit Zeta Brewing Company again.  Zeta is located at 131 - 1st Ave. N in Jax Beach, just a block or so off of 3rd St./A1A. Happy Hour runs Monday-Friday, 11-7, and there are also daily specials. Visit its website at www.zetabrewing.com.  You can also get social via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.